Movie Details
Recommendation

Godzilla (1998)

 
 
 

Emmerich's Monster in Mahattan

We need... bigger guns - Sergeant O'Neal

Matthew Broderick as Dr. Niko Tatopoulos in Godzilla (1998)

It may be called "Godzilla" but it's not a Godzilla movie, nope this is director Roland Emmerich giving us his vision of a monster movie and if you have seen other Emmerich movies you will know what to expect. We have quirky characters, big action, big chase scenes, big special effects and big destruction with a big monster at the centre of it all but it is not a Godzilla movie. In fact whilst we have a lot of typical big elements which Emmerich would go on to use in his later disaster movies we also have some nods to other monster movies, there are references to "Jaws", "Jurassic Park" and a sort of nod to "Gremlins". The trouble is that "Godzilla" ends up just another movie where there is destruction and special effects and not a lot else, which makes it very ordinary.

Many years after nuclear weapons were tested in the Pacific Ocean a Japanese fishing trawler mysteriously sinks with only one survivor who in his traumatised state keeps repeating "Gojira". Elsewhere scientist Niko Tatopoulos (Matthew Broderick - Addicted to Love) finds himself being pulled from his studies at Chernobyl and taken first to Panama and then on to New York when it becomes apparent that there is a giant, radio active lizard in Manhattan and it is looking for somewhere to nest.

Hank Azaria as Victor 'Animal' Palotti in Godzilla (1998)

"Godzilla" starts with some sepia footage of nuclear weapon testing and Iguana's observing the blasts, this then goes all over the place as we meet Niko at Chernobyl, a mysterious French man called Philippe, the military who comes for Niko and also Audrey a reporter in Manhattan. For a movie which ends up very simple this set up seems excessive and in part is one of the reasons why "Godzilla" is needlessly over the two hour mark.

Now I mentioned that "Godzilla" ends up simple and it is no word of a lie as we have the monster in Manhattan, the military trying to destroy it and it chasing various people as it rampages through the streets. There is a bit of a twist to this which for a split second makes it a monster movie with a touch of creativity but even then the twist ends up wasted as we have more destruction, chasing and explosions.

What this all boils down to is that "Godzilla" ends up a typical Roland Emmerich big budget disaster movie, okay so we have a monster but what we get is people running through the streets with destruction everywhere. And being typical it also means we have an eclectic bunch of characters all of which are slightly quirky such as giant worm studying Niko through to mysterious Frenchman Philippe. But what it also means is that "Godzilla" is a movie all about the special effect infused action and to be honest it's not really that impressive and feels like any other big budget movie which trades on destruction.

What is a shame is that there are moments of semi cleverness as references to other movies are thrown in from "Jaws" with Sergeant O'Neal declaring we need bigger guns to a scene similar to a raptor scene in "Jurassic Park". And of course there is Michael Lerner and Lorry Goldman as Mayor Ebert and assistant Gene, a dig at the famed critics. But because everything ends up being about the rollercoaster ride of action none of it really wows you.

What this all boils down to is that "Godzilla" is not a Godzilla movie just Roland Emmerich giving us a monster movie with a lot of disaster movie destruction. It mans that "Godzilla" is a movie all about the action and effects and unfortunately none of it is that stunning or at least standout compared to other monster/ disaster movies.

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